Cllr. Kruah Debunks Mischaracterization Against Him -Says Allegation of USD58k and others baseless

MONROVIA: In the wake of allegations made against Cllr. Cooper Kruah by a Liberian businessman, Edgar S. Sydney which has made his nomination to be placed on hold, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General designate has come out to stoutly defend his name and character when he appeared on the Spoon TV network to trash the mischaracterization levied against him. The Analyst reports.

With his nomination being greeted with allegations levied against him and other attachments coming in the frail since his nomination as the Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Cllr. Cooper Kruah sought for himself the task to debunk all the claims of corrupt practice of illegally carting away the amount of USD58k said to belong to one Edgar S. Sydney, his former client and the addition allegation that he was one of those who interrogated and tortured former President Samuel Kanyon Doe and the insinuation that his choice as Justice Minister will be counterproductive to the quest of President Boakai to establish the War and Economic Crimes Court in the country.

But speaking to a wider audience on the Spoon TV Network on Friday, February 2, 2024, out rightly denied the allegation of illegally taking away the said USD58k and termed it as a ‘blackmail to rob me of money’ and at the same time a plot hatched  by Sydney whom he said had been on his trail to destroy his career the moment “I was tipped to become the Post and Telecommunications Minister in 2018.

“The same fellow, Edgar Sydney had sent somebody to tell me that if I can’t give him USD75k he will write all sorts of things so that I cannot be considered for Minister of Post and Telecommunications. I told him that it was blackmailing I will not give him one cent. He went on Costa Show to say all kinds of things, he went on to appear to the Senate Committee, he did not have any document to support what he said, and I had reports from the Grievances and ethic committee to show that I did not take one cent from him but let me give you the background of the story”, Cllr. Kruah said.

Cllr. Kruah tracing how he got to know his accuser, said Sydney and an Italian by the name of Edmond Tombette who had earlier worked with the Tradevco bank in Liberia jointly established a company called Mano River Agricultural Rehabilitation and Development Corporation MARDCO) that was buying rubber from Sierra Leone and selling the products to the Firestone Company in Harbel, Margibi county.

He said he was told by Sydney that the business was going on fine until Tribeta began showing evidence of mistrust where he (Tombette) was pocketing the proceeds from the sale of the rubber and not in the account of the company they jointly founded.

He said Sydney sought a legal remedy and hired a lawyer called Lufa who filed a complaint over proper accounting at the civil law court which Sydney and his lawyer won.

“The case was filed at the civil law court and there was a ruling by the civil law court in favor of MARDCO and Tombette announced an appeal to the Supreme Court and because their lawyer was an attorney and not a counselor to be able to plead before the Supreme Court which is required, he and Sydney asked me to argue the case at the Supreme Court.

“I argued the case at the Supreme Court and won the case for USD600K. Because the matter was on a contingency basis, we agreed that he will pay me 20% of whatever amount that will be awarded. So the USD600k award meant that they would have paid the law firm an offer of USD120k. But when the bill of cost was prepared and served on the Italian man in Monrovia, he ran away and went to Freetown. Before he fled to Freetown instead of bringing in the rubber in the same name, he registered the company in his girlfriend’s name, one Madam Rebecca Eze.

“Rebecca Eze brought four trucks of rubber to Monrovia on their way to Firestone. Sydney brought this to my attention and I filed a bill of information before the civil law court to say these people were trying to evade the payment of the satisfaction of the judgment and they are using another name even though they are the same people”, Kruah explained.

Cllr. Kruah while providing more clarity on the said transaction said the bill of information was upheld by the court and the court ordered that the rubber should be auctioned and the proceeds should be applied against the judgment.

“That was done, Sydney and the Sheriff of the court were the ones that took the rubber to Firestone, sold the rubber, the proceeds they generated from the rubber was 105,333k. That was the money that was realized by Sydney.

“Sydney signed for USD36k directly from the Sheriff, then the former Chief Justice Johnny Lewis ordered that the lady who brought the rubber that was seized, should receive 75% of the proceeds from the sale. So that came to USD43k something, the court also paid to the lady.

“Now if you check 36k that was paid directly from the court to Sydney, the 43k to the lady, there was a balance in the court of 24k. As a matter of fact, the law offices that represented him, Lufan Keneah, Cllr. Tuan the Solicitor now. When we realized that these people were not bringing in rubber again, there was a balance of USD24k, so we called Mr. Sydney, to go and get the money so he could pay the lawyers. We went with him with the Sheriff of the court, signed for the money. They came to my office, the three lawyers. He paid each lawyer USD3k each and he took USD15k. If you check, the 36k he took and the USD15k, that came around USD51k.

“Then the USD 43k that was paid to the lady who brought the rubber, and the 9k that was paid to the law offices, , if you check that, that is about 105k. Then the court cost, so the revenue that was generated and the expenditure almost squared up, that was nothing remaining.

“Now that was done; the USD120k that should have been paid to my law firm, only USD3k I received. Meaning, Mr. Sydney owed me USD117k against the USD120k that I should have received. That was not done”, Cllr Kruah said.

Speaking further where he clarified and trashed out the USD58k, Cllr Kruah whose confirmation is said to be on hold because of the case said to his utmost surprise, about two to three years ago as he was not too sure of the actual year as at the time of the interview last Friday, said Mr. Sydney filed a complaint with the Chief Justice “that I took USD58k from his money and paid the lawyers that represented him without his consent; that was the cause for the complaint to the Chief justice”.

“The Chief Justice constituted a grievance and ethics committee, the grievance and ethic committee conducted an investigation of the matter, I showed them all the receipts and at the close of it, they recommended that since I was the lawyer for Sydney, the Sheriff should prepare a comprehensive report, regarding how much he collected, how much he disbursed.

“The sheriff of the court made that report and I was told to submit that report to the Supreme Court. The report was submitted to the Supreme Court and the recommendation was very clear. I have the copy of the recommendation of the grievances and ethics committee. And there is a report that I was not suspended”, he clarified from the main contending issue his nomination is being put on hold.

Kruah admitted that because of the allegation, his confirmation has been put on hold because “the Pro Temp told me the President ordered it, that they wanted to check one or two places.”

“I spoke to the Pro Temp today and she said to me that I should have been confirmed on Thursday, but she received an instruction to hold on a bit because there is one or two pieces of information they wanted to get from me. That was what she told me and that I can confirm to you. Are you asking me the nomination has been withdrawn? No. They told me there are one or two things to be figured out. That is what she told me and I believe her being the Pro Temp. I have all the reasons to believe her. So I respect her for that”, he said.

When asked whether the President still trusts him and will retain his nomination, Kruah said emphatically there is nothing like mistrust on his part though it was a question that best fits the President to answer.

“Well that question should be for the President but I can tell you that since the end of the second round election, the President trusted me with some responsibilities to do some research about his foundation and I have been sitting down with him and giving him some legal advice which is essential for his action. When the issues of Musa Dean came about I was the one who led the team to advise him, when the issue of Wolokollie came about, I led the legal team. So I have been doing legal things for him.

“I trust him and I believe in him. I walked out of my office as Minister of Post and Communications to attend his program and that showed how I believe in him and how he too believes in me”, Krua said.

Responding to a question whether he was one of those who interrogated and tortured the late President Samuel Kanyon Doe to death as was shown on video, Kruah vehemently rejected and dismissed such insinuation, claiming “that should be the handiworks of mischief makers who are bent to tarnish my reputation and destroy my career, adding that he was not even around in Liberia when Doe was captured, tortured and killed by forces loyal to now Senator Prince Y. Johnson of Nimba County.

“In 1990, I left Liberia in July when the war was approaching Monrovia. I left Liberia and went to Italy. I remained in Italy when Doe was killed. When I left, my wife was 9 months pregnant but I was forced to leave because I was missed on two occasions by the soldiers and therefore I have to leave Liberia.

“I think in Mid-1992, when Doe had died, I went to Freetown to look for my family in Bo Waterside, I didn’t find them and sent people to Monrovia and I discovered there were displaced people in the house. My family was not there. I went back and flew to the Ivory Coast and went to Danane. I sent people to my village and discovered my wife and my children were there, I resettled them.

“When we came back to Liberia, there was the Octopus and my two houses in Monrovia got burnt in the process. Through the late Ambassador Joseph Saye Guanu, my family and I got temporary accommodation at Hotel Africa and subsequently we travelled to the United States.

“So we were in the United States and in 1995, we came back to Liberia. I have never been a fighter, I never associated myself with any of the warring factions in Liberia”, Kruah said.

Asked if he has any document to show that he was indeed in Italy at the time of the war, he responded in the affirmative and said he lived with one of his cousins in Italy at the time called Dan Goe who was a Liberian representative to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) who presently resides in Wisconsin in the United States of America.

Addressing the question of where he stands on the establishment of the War and Economic Crimes Court especially so when President Boakai has accepted the idea of having one in Liberia and his role as Justice Minister will be crucial in the process, Cllr. Kruah said there are a couple of things to look at and that if the majority of Liberians desire that “this is the best way to go, and we at the Ministry of Justice have the responsibility to enforce it, if the mechanism are put in place that we are responsible, we will implement it.”

“”Under our three branches of government, it is the legislature that can make laws, and if there is any law to that effect, we in the executive will be the one to enforce the law that will be promulgated. I will have no hesitation to do that.

“If I am confirmed as Minister of Justice of this country, I will be working for Liberia. And my position is I will work for the executive; the executive enforces the law. That is our rule. If we have a law on the book and you violate the law, I will enforce that law”, he said.

Towards the end of the interview, he also dismissed the insinuation that his nomination was influenced by Senator Prince Y. Johnson, stressing that he is a major stakeholder in the Unity Party alliance as National Chairman of the Movement for Democracy and Reconstruction (MDR) besides being eminently qualified to as a practicing lawyer for more than 30 years.

“No, No. My nomination was not influenced by Senator Johnson. My status as National Chairman of the MDR and my over 30 years as a practicing lawyer and my experience give me this job.

“Remember the MDR was instrumental to the victory of this alliance and you know during the second round we were able to produce the 140,000 votes that made the victory possible.

“Since all the nominations you have been hearing, I am the first person from the MDR to be appointed”, he said.

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